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  • Stop and Search: Past Problems, Current Concerns

    Seema Kandelia

    Chapter from the book: Whyte, A et al. 2024. The Long Walk to Equality: Perspectives on Racial Inequality, Injustice and the Law.


    The power to stop and search is viewed as essential in helping the police prevent and investigate crime. However, statistics continue to show that people from BAME communities are disproportionately stopped and searched, leading to criticism that these powers operate in an unfair and discriminatory manner. This criticism is not new. One of the contributing factors to the Brixton Riots in 1981 was the misuse of stop and search powers on black people (Scarman 1981). Almost two decades later, the unfair use of stop and search was once again the subject of debate (Macpherson 1999). There have been several reforms to stop and search powers over the years; however, research indicates that these reforms have failed to address the perceived racial bias surrounding their use. This chapter explores the racial disparities behind the use of stop and search, focussing on the current legal provisions and police practice. In particular, it will consider the occupational culture within the police force and unconscious or implicit biases that could impact on the police’s use of stop and search powers.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Kandelia, S. 2024. Stop and Search: Past Problems, Current Concerns. In: Whyte, A et al (eds.), The Long Walk to Equality. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book63.h

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    Published on Feb. 20, 2024